The Hamilton Commission has released its first report on how to improve diversity in motorsport, issuing a series of actionable recommendations but also citing "far reaching" problems that need to be addressed.
The commission was established last year at the behest of Lewis Hamilton and in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering following the seven-time world champion's pledge to fight social injustice and improve diversity in the motorsport arena.
The Hamilton Commission conducted its research over a period of ten months, guided by one basic premise: the under-representation of Black people in the UK motorsport industry.
The report identifies a diversity of factors – societal as well as geographic - related to practices within the industry that hinder the recruitment and progression of Black people in motorsport.
"While I have enjoyed a successful career in motorsport, it’s been a lonely path as one of the few Black individuals within Formula 1 and, after fifteen years of waiting for the industry to catch up, I realised I had to take action myself," stated Hamilton.
"In order to do that, I needed to understand what was preventing the industry from being as diverse as the world around it.
"Through the Commission’s research, we can see there are clear meaningful steps the motorsport industry needs to take towards creating a more inclusive environment where diversity can thrive but also that we must tackle the barriers facing Black students that exist throughout their educational journey.
"Some of these barriers I recognise from my own experiences, but our findings have opened my eyes to just how far reaching these problems are.
"Now that I’m armed with the Commission’s recommendations, I am personally committed to ensuring they are put into action. I’m so proud of our work to date, but this is really just the beginning."
Among the commission's 10 recommendations, the following propositions were highlighted:
- Asking that Formula 1 teams (and other Motorsports organisations) take the lead in implementing a Diversity and Inclusion Charter for motorsport to commit the sector to improve diversity and inclusion across all organisations.
- Calling for Formula 1 teams and other motorsport businesses to broaden access to motorsport by expanding the apprenticeships provision to include higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships as an alternate pathway into the sector, as well as availability to paid work placement and work experience schemes.
- Establishment of a new exclusions innovation fund, to develop programmes that address the factors that contribute to the high proportion of students from Black backgrounds being excluded from schools.
- Supporting the piloting of new approaches to increase the number of Black teachers in STEM subjects that lead to careers in engineering, namely mathematics, physics, design and technology, and computing.
- Supporting the creation of scholarship programmes to enable Black graduates from degrees in engineering and allied subjects to progress into specialist motorsport roles.
- Calling for additional STEM activity support to be provided to supplementary schools led by Black community groups across the UK.
Interestingly, the commission's report underlines how F1's cost-cap measures represent beforehand a deterrent for teams to offer young students an apprenticeship in the sport.
"We think that the cost cap is a barrier for teams to recruit apprentices, because apprentice salaries will be included in the costs for improving the performance of the car," explained Rhys Morgan, director at The Royal Academy of Engineering
"Why would a team take on a young 16-year-old, with no experience, when they could take on a time-served technician or mechanic, who's going to be able to start working on the car.
"We think there's an opportunity there to explore how to make some exclusions within the cost cap to encourage apprenticeship training."
Upon the release of the Hamilton Commission's comprehensive report, Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali said that Grand Prix racing's organization would take stock of the report's findings and address its recommendations.
"The Hamilton Commission has delivered a comprehensive and impressive report that shows the passion Lewis has for this very important issue," stated Domenicali.
"We will take the time to read and reflect on all of the findings, but we completely agree that we need to increase diversity across the sport. We have taken action to address this and will be announcing more actions in the coming days.
"We want a sport that is representative of our hugely diverse fan base and that is why Formula 1, the FIA and all the teams are working hard to deliver on our detailed plans to create positive change across the sport.
"There is always more to do and the report will stimulate thoughts about further actions that are required."